While much of the attention Saturday will be focused on the Kentucky Derby and Oaks preps at Gulfstream Park – the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Forward Gal Stakes (G3) – the track does play host to three other graded events.
The penultimate stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday is the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes (G3), which features 10 colts going eight furlongs on the grass one race before the Holy Bull wraps up the card.
Untamed Domain is the one to beat in the Dania Beach following his impressive rallying second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last out on November 3 at Del Mar. The Graham Motion-trained son of Animal Kingdom came from the back of the 14-strong field to just miss by a length on the wire. The bay sophomore earned his shot at Breeders’ Cup glory when taking the Summer Stakes (Can-G2) at Woodbine by a neck and running a nice third in the With Anticipation Stakes (G3) at Saratoga in his prior two races. Jose Ortiz stays in the saddle on the Kentucky-bred colt.
Speed Franco will try to get back to his winning ways here following a sixth-placing, but beaten only a length, in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes last out on January 6. Before that contest, the Gustavo Delgado charge wired the Pulpit Stakes over course and distance with returning jockey Emisael Jaramillo aboard.
Kicking off the stakes action on the day will be the $200,000 Swale Stakes (G3) sending six sophomores seven furlongs.
Trainer Mark Hennig sends out Strike Power to face winners for the first time in this spot. The Speightstown colt wired his 5 1/2-furlong maiden debut over the track on December 23 by eight lengths and just missed the track record time by .33 seconds. That earned the homebred chestnut a stellar 103 BRIS Speed rating.
“It was a really nice debut,” Hennig said. “Hopefully he can run something equivalent to that.
“It’s a big step up but there’s not a bunch in there that have been running in graded stakes, so they’re kind of all stepping up. Certainly going for the second start of his life into a stake is still a tough row to hoe.”
Luis Saez was aboard for Strike Power’s racing bow and guides the sophomore on Saturday from the far outside post.
Another major contender in the Swale is Tricks to Doo. The Arnaud Delacour-trained bay ran third in his debut at Keeneland last October before returning 20 days later at Laurel Park to break his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths. The Into Mischief colt was last seen wiring the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on December 16 by 7 1/4 lengths, good for a 98 BRIS Speed rating.
The $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3) attracted nine sophomore fillies to go a mile on the turf two races later.
Cash Out returns to the grass here after running third, beaten six lengths, in the Golden Rod Stakes (G3) over Churchill Downs’ main track on November 25. Prior to that the Rusty Arnold pupil rallied to be third in the Jessamine Stakes (G3) over Keeneland’s green and broke her maiden by a half-length at Kentucky Downs in early September. Nik Juarez has the call on the Street Cry chestnut miss.
Data Dependent broke her maiden at Belmont Park in her third try last fall, then shipped to Del Mar for trainer Chad Brown to miss by only a length in the Jimmy Durante Stakes (G3). The More Than Ready filly keeps regular rider Javier Castellano in the irons Saturday.
One to watch in the Sweetest Chant is the French-bred Salsa Bella. The bay daughter of Siyouni broke her maiden in a listed contest in her native France last September and gets first-time Lasix for her U.S. debut. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides the Brown pupil.